LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — Joel Embiid led a fourth-quarter rally Wednesday as the Philadelphia 76ers put a huge dent in the Dallas Mavericks’ hopes of reaching the playoffs with a 116-108 victory.
Sixers star Embiid led the scoring with 25 points, nine rebounds and four assists as Philadelphia outscored the Mavericks 27-17 in the final quarter to snap their three-game losing streak.
James Harden added 15 points with 12 assists on his return from injury while Tyrese Maxey finished with 22 points for the Sixers.
Philadelphia remain third in the Eastern Conference having already guaranteed their playoff place with a 50-26 record.
But Wednesday’s loss was another bodyblow to the Mavericks’ chances of forcing their way into the postseason.
Dallas are now 11th in the Western Conference at 37-40, with only five regular season games remaining.
Luka Doncic led the Dallas scoring with 24 points while Kyrie Irving finished with 23.
However Dallas were left ruing a feeble fourth quarter shooting performance, making just seven of 19 from the field as the Sixers pulled away down the stretch.
The damage for Dallas was exacerbated by the fact that two of their nearest rivals for a place in the play-in tournament -– the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder -– both won on Wednesday.
– Lakers tame Bulls –
LA bounced back from Sunday’s home loss to Chicago by taming the Bulls on the road in the Windy City, winning 121-110.
Anthony Davis produced a dazzling display for the Lakers at both ends of the court with 38 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocks.
LeBron James added 25 points while Austin Reaves scored 19 points and D’Angelo Russell chipped in with 17.
The Lakers are eighth in the Western Conference with a 38-38 record.
Oklahoma City meanwhile occupy 10th place in the West — the last of the play-in spots — after a last-gasp 107-106 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
Jalen Williams was the hero for Oklahoma City with a layup in the final second to clinch a crucial win for the Thunder.
Williams finished with 27 points to lead the Oklahoma City scoring, with Luguentz Dort adding 20.
Elsewhere on Wednesday, Jrue Holiday erupted for 51 points as the Milwaukee Bucks downed the Indiana Pacers 149-136 on the road.
Holiday’s masterpiece came from 20-of-30 shooting while Giannis Antetokounmpo added 38 points and Brook Lopez 21 as Milwaukee edged closer to locking down the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Bucks now lead the table at 55-21, three games clear of the second-placed Boston Celtics with six game left in the regular season.
In New York, the Knicks ground out a 101-92 victory over the Miami Heat to remain within touching distance of clinching a playoff berth.
But the win was overshadowed by an injury to Knicks star Julius Randle, who hobbled off the court in the second quarter after suffering a sprained left ankle.
In Memphis meanwhile, Russell Westbrook delivered a vintage performance with 36 points and 10 assists as the Los Angeles Clippers outgunned the Grizzlies 141-132.
Robert Covington also starred for the Clippers, shooting seven of seven from three-point range in a 27-point haul off the bench.
Ja Morant led the Memphis scoring with 36 points.
© Agence France-Presse